Projects reviewed as Arkansas ARPA funds dwindle

Water projects got a nods, while hospitals have a wait time of the Expenditure Review Committee of the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC) this week.

State of play: Approval by the ALC is the next step in funding projects that have received initial recommendations from the Governor-appointed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) steering committee.

Rollback: In total, the committee recommended spending more than $423 million of the state’s total $1.57 billion in federal funds last month.

  • The group suggested a total of $280 million for water projects requested by the state Department of Agriculture in mid-August.
  • Then, in late August, the steering committee recommended a total of $114 million for projects, including money to keep several Arkansas hospitals from closing.

What happened: The ALC committee on Tuesday approved $5 million to the Department of Social Services to support behavioral health training, $25,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration for reimbursement for COVID-19 testing, $280 million to the Department of Agriculture for water projects and $4.6 million for Black River Technical College to build training and short-term housing facilities.

Yes, but: The ALC has not acted on several requests to collectively obtain about $105 million from ARPA, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. reported.

  • Denials included the request for $60 million to help keep hospitals from closing, $10 million to benefit rural hospitals through the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, and several requests from colleges and Women and Children First for a combined total of $35 million for healthcare-related construction projects. .

Details: The ALC review committee was concerned that the applications were “hazardous” or that the projects did not have clearly defined objectives, the The Arkansas attorney reported.

  • Senate Pro Tempore Chairman Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana) told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he wants every hospital seeking ARPA money to explain their needs and how the money will help the hospital.

The other side: The Department of Human Services’ initial application to the steering committee said to be eligible for emergency funds, DHS would require a hospital to show it was at “immediate risk” of closure and would have to provide a detailed plan for financial viability. within 90 days. .

The context: The The ARPA Steering Committee was appointed in May 2021 to make recommendations on the allocation of federal federal funds. The money must be spent on one of eight criteriaincluding water supply and sewage infrastructure, and meet health care needs exacerbated by the pandemic.

To note : Cindy Gillespie, secretary of the Department of Social Services, announced her resignation on Thursday. She leaves to spend more time with her family.

Lillian L. Pena